For groups with a passion for nature and wilderness, consider a tour in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Known as the UP, this land is a rugged wilderness. The western part of the UP is home to the Porcupine Mountains — over 1,000 miles of pristine running rivers, streams and the largest inland sea in the world, Lake Superior.
These itinerary suggestions come from “Where Eagles Fly: A Hiking Adventure,” developed by Circle Michigan. The organization, established in 1981, was the first in the United States to focus on the promotion of group travel.
Optional itineraries for the return trip to the final destination are available.
Just north of Ironwood is the 6-mile Black River Parkway. The parkway is a cascade of seven waterfalls as the river drops more than 200 feet in 2 miles. The falls range between 10 and 45 feet in height, and the most spectacular waterfall has a suspension bridge. Roadside trails provide access to Gorge Falls and Potawatomi Falls and are designated a National Recreation Trail because of the steep slope and unique stairway design to the platform overlook. At the mouth of the river is Black River Harbor. Flowing through an expanse of large pine, hemlock and hardwood trees, the water winds its way down from Copper Peak to Lake Superior.
The Porcupine Mountains offer more than 80 miles of marked hiking trails and provide majestic views around every bend. Nestled high in the “Porkies” as they are called, is Lake of the Clouds overlook, a must-see and one of the most scenic spots in Michigan. Head north, up towards the Buckshot Landing and explore parts of Lake Superior Trail. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the park. Another “Porkies” favorite is the Summit Peak Observation Tower. At nearly 2,000 feet above sea level it is one of the highest peaks in Michigan and offers stunning views of the virgin forest below.
The UP has a long history of copper, silver and iron mining. Take a tour of one of the area’s historic mines. Explore the underground shafts at the historic Adventure Copper Mine. Several guided underground tours are offered at one of the best-preserved copper mines in Michigan. Walk through part, or all, of the tunnels on the first level. The more adventurous can try at rappelling with a rope and harness to the second level of the mine. Either way, artifacts have been left in place, including the rails from the tram system, timbers from loading chutes, shovels, powder boxes and tram cars.
For an adventure tour option, head to Isle Royal National Park, located in Lake Superior. The national park offers more than 165 miles of scenic hiking trails. See historic lighthouses and shipwrecks, ancient copper mining sites and plenty of spots to observe the moose wolves, loons, beaver, fox, and other small mammals and birdlife. Trails are well defined and easy to follow. Hikers have a variety of trails varying in duration and difficulty from which to choose. Wild berries can be found all along the trails all summer long — from strawberries and thimbleberries to raspberries and blueberries. Have a camera ready for a shot of a moose.